A top spymaster of the US has recently warned of a strong possibility of communal violence in India ahead of the 2019 Lok Saba polls. Although the warning has no mention of Assam, the state can well be one of the focal points.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led NDA government’s move to push the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 and subsequent reactions of the society towards the Bill may trigger a political, ethnic and religio-linguistic conflict in Assam.
“Parliamentary elections in India increase the possibility of communal violence if Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party stresses Hindu nationalist themes,” Dan Coats, Director of National Intelligence, said in his report to the members of the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence recently.
The ongoing agitation in Assam over the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 and the ongoing row over granting of ST status to six communities have already led to substantial misunderstanding among different communities despite the BJP led government trying its best to contain the situation.
The agitation of the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU), the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) and hundreds of organisations against the BJP-led government’s move to pass the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 in the Parliament has already triggered political conflict in different parts of the state.
The Bill, which was passed in the Lok Sabha on January 8, 2019, is yet to get Rajya Sabha nod.
The move of the Central government to form a committee to ensure granting of ST status to Moran, Matak, Tai Ahom, Koch Rajbongshis, Chutia and Tea tribes has also confused the tribal communities, who are currently enjoying the ST status.
While the clashes that broke out between the members of AASU and some BJP workers at Nalbari on Sunday are manifestations of this conflict on the streets, Wednesday’s clashes between some BJP workers and members of AASU and Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chatra Parishad (AJYCP) also signalled probability of a major political conflict in the days to come.
On the other hand, the Centre’s move to set the ball rolling for granting ST status for six communities has also fumed the tribal communities who are currently enjoying ST status.
Biswajit Daimary, the Rajya Sabha member from the Bodoland People’s Front (BPF), which is a partner of the BJP-led coalition government in Assam, has on record stated that there is a fear among the existing ST communities that they would be deprived of their rights once the six communities are granted ST status.
A delegation of the BPF, led by Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) chief Hagrama Mohilary, has already met Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh to ascertain that granting of ST status to six communities should not infringe upon the rights of those enjoying the status now.
Besides, the government’s move to push forward the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 has also created a divide between the Assamese and Bengali Hindus and the Muslims, which was not there in the post-Assam movement and during the time of Assam Accord.
The contentious Bill has also led to a rift between the Barak Valley and Brahmaputra Valley of Assam with former All Cachar Karimganj Hailakandi Students’ Association (ACKHSA) president Pradip Dutta Roy even threatening to deprive Assamese students of admission in Assam University at Silchar over protest against the Bill.
The Muslims, on the other hand, are also not happy over the Bill as it assures citizenship to persecuted Hindus.
The religious minority community has already been targetted by the leaders of the saffron party.
Assam finance minister HImanta Biswa Sarma had on record gone to blame the Bengali-speaking Muslims for encroaching the Vaishnavite Satras in Assam and blaming the community for rape and other crimes against women across the state.